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Friday, December 11, 2009

Edition 4: RTI Assessment Report

RTI Assessment Report

After 4 years of RTI acts few studies are done to judge its effectiveness and usage.

l Nearly 65% of the randomly selected inhabitants of ten state headquarters, and Delhi, stated that access to information, especially government information, would significantly help them solve many of their basic problems.
l In rural areas and district head-quarters the overall percentage was similar, with nearly 65% of the FGDs concluding that access to information was helpful.
l The justification and rationale for the RTI Act is not the demand for the act (as many might not have yet heard of it, or know how to use it), but the demand for information,
especially as a means of empowerment to address some of the basic problems.
l 45% of our randomly selected urban respond-ents (from state capitals and the national capital) claimed that they knew about the RTI Act.
l In the rural areas, most people got to know about the RTI Act through news papers (35%), followed by television and radio, and friends and relatives (10% each), and NGOs (5%).
l Among urban applicants, nearly 30% learnt about the Act from news- papers, 20% from NGOs and a similar number from the TV, and almost 10% learnt about the RTI Act from friends and relatives.
l Unfortunately the government was not a major force in raising public awareness about the RTI Act.
Number of RTI Applications Filed
l An estimated 400,000 applicants from the villages of India filed RTI applications in the first two and a half years of the RTI Act.
l An estimated 1.6 million applications were filed in urban areas in the first two and a half
years of the RTI Act.
l Disturbingly, over 90% of the rural applicants and 85% of the urban applicants were males.
Profile of the RTI Applicants
l Among the rural participants, about 30% of the sample applicants belonged to the economic weaker class of society, having a below-poverty-line (BPL) or Antyodaya ration card. Nearly 65% had above-poverty-line (APL) cards.
l Among the urban applicants, nearly 15% of the sample applicants belonged to the economic weaker class of society, having a below-poverty-line (BPL) or Antyodaya ration card. Nearly 85% had above-poverty-line (APL) cards.
Constraints in Filing RTI Applications
l Over 40% of the rural respondents stated that the most important constraint they faced in
exercising their right to information was harassment and threats from officials.
l Nearly 15% of urban respondents cited harassment from officials and uncooperative officials as the most important constraint.
l In many of the villages across the country there was a threat perception among the villagers and they were hesitant to file RTI applications even when requested
l Nearly 30% of the villagers filing RTI applications for us reported that they were discour aged by the PIO from filing the application.
l Very difficult to get addresses of PIOs, especially for district and sub-district levels.
l There are 88 different sets of RTI rules in India and no one place where they are all available. Differing rules mean differing amounts of fee to be paid, different modes of payment and even of filing applications.
l Some states insist on sending even letters in the state's language, making it impossible for people from other states to access information (despite section 4(4) of the RTI Act).
10 section 4(4) of the RTI Act).10

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